Writer’s Resource – the Emotion Thesaurus

Emotion Thesaurus

Emotion Thesaurus

I recently purchased The Emotional Thesaurus through Amazon. I haven’t explored it thoroughly, but from what I’ve seen, it’s going to be very helpful.

How do you write anger, joy, desperation, despair, or denial? Let’s look first at how the book is laid out. The emotion is at the top of a two-page spread. A definition is given, followed by a LOT of physical signals, in other words, describing what a person does who feels this emotion.

Then, the authors change to the character’s Point of View (we’ll get into that sometime, too.) Internal Sensations, such as: “A heart that feels like it’s shrinking. A clenching stomach. Sudden onset of nausea. A tightening chest. Breaths that hitch. A heaviness in the body.” What is this person feeling? I’ll tell you in a minute.”

Mental Responses, tell you what the character is thinking: “Negativity, A feeling of dread or hopelessness. Defeatist thoughts about oneself. Wanting to be alone. Feeling worthless.”

Cues of Acute or Long-Term (affects of this emotion): “Berating oneself. Wallowing (drinking too much, listening to depression songs), Obsessing over why things happened the way they did. An inability to move on. This is followed by an alert! MAY ESCALATE TO…” and four other emotions are listed.

Cues of Suppressed (emotion): “A slight lip press. Dropping the shoulders, then hitching them up again. Offering false cheer, a weak smile. Comforting others. Citing a backup plan or listing more options. Making promises. Clasping one’s hands in one’s lap. Congratulating the victor.”

WRITER’S TIP: Characters experiencing raw emotion often react without thinking – either through dialogue or action. Rash behavior  creates the perfect storm for increased tension and conflict.”

What's this little guy feeling?

What’s this little guy feeling?

So what is this person feeling?

If you said disappointment, you’re right. I was astounded how accurate it is. I told you the other day I got another rejection over the weekend. This time from a publisher. It was a very nice rejection, possibly the nicest worded one I’ve gotten in a long time. But a rejection is still a rejection. Unfortunately, I’m was feeling some of these especially the mental responses, the long-term and suppressed. Wow. What an eye opener.

I have to say though – that I’m learning to overcome and recover quicker. I’m healing emotionally, because I believe God is with me and helping me with that; and I’ve got a great network of writer friends who continually encourage me to keep on keeping on. So I say the same to you – whether you’re writing, or just living life – keep on keeping on. Things will change. “This too, shall pass.” Blessings.


5 Comments on “Writer’s Resource – the Emotion Thesaurus”

  1. Donna, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on The Emotion Thesaurus! I hope you find it very helpful as you write. Sorry to hear about the rejection. Those are hard…we want to see a yes, not a no. But rejection is part of the writerly package, and it is also a huge indicator of your growth and commitment: you are submitting! You are risking emotional turmoil because you feel passionate about your story! You are determined to succeed!

    And you know what happens when you keep at it? You DO succeed! 🙂 Keep submitting, keep growing your craft. You can do it!



    • Angela, thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I’ve been coming out of the closet with my rejection issues, and as I do, I think I’m getting more healing. I think the book will be very helpful as I continue my writing. I’m thinking about getting your positive and negative ones as well. Christmas is coming. The book is laid out so simply, and is easy to follow. Thanks to you and your co-author Becca Puglisi for writing it.


  2. Donna, Thanks for sharing about the Emotion Thesaurus! It sounds like a VERY helpful resource and I will be looking to pick one up. I really appreciate books that are easy to use in my writing journey. If I have to read a book from cover to cover in order to glean something useful from it, I tend to get bogged down in the reading and stop writing until I’ve finished reading the book, and that is NOT what I want to do. Also, I want to be able to quickly and easily find the useful information in a book when I need it during the writing process. That can be hard in a book that requires reading the entire book for the tips. Even highlighting doesn’t make it easy to find what I’m looking for when I go back to that resource. I often end up taking copious notes and that is extremely time consuming, but at least, then, I have what I need and can find it when I need it. So glad for books like The Emotion Thesaurus! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!


    • For Christmas, I’m buying myself the other books on positive and negative emotion traits as well. I should be getting those in the mail today. I’ve already used this book a couple of times, and I just got it. Thanks Kelly. 🙂


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